BETA

Missionary moments: Declared his belief

Masanori Uchida, 23, of Tokyo, Japan, claims he was almost an atheist. He had a vague belief in God, but he did not believe in Christ.

In November 1991, Masanori's mother asked him to travel to Salt Lake City. She was writing a biographical article about the late Kuniko Terasawa, who had been the editor of the Utah Nippo, a Japanese-American newspaper headquartered in Salt Lake City. Masanori was apprehensive about his visit to Utah because he was not acquainted with the Mormon religion and presumed it to be a dangerous cult that he should avoid. In addition, his image of Salt Lake City was that of a small, provincial town. He was relieved to find that the city was well-organized and that the people were friendly.He visited Temple Square and, upon seeing the Christus statue in the North Visitors Center, was surprised to discover Mormons were Christians. After five days in Utah, he returned to Japan. Upon his return, he had a strong desire to read anything he could about the Church. He searched bookstores for a copy of the Book of Mormon but found none. Finally, he located an LDS chapel and obtained an English version of the Mormon scripture.

He only read one page of the Book of Mormon - the preface that states that the book is an abridgment of the record of Nephi. The next day at work he felt enlightened and sensed heavenly approval of his reading the book and his searching for truth.

A few weeks later, early in February 1992, Masanori attended an English conversation program offered by LDS missionaries. His real intent in attending the program was to learn more about the gospel. The missionaries presented the discussions to Masanori. They promised him that if he had faith, the Holy Ghost would manifest the truth of the Book of Mormon and gospel to him.

The first night after receiving these instructions, Masanori prayed but received nothing. Early the next morning, he was awakened by a warm feeling in his chest. He immediately began praying silently and declared his belief in God and the message of the restored gospel.

Masanori was baptized March 22, 1992. He returned to Utah and entered LDS Business College in September 1992 to study interior design. He entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, June 16 to prepare to serve a full-time mission in Osaka, Japan.